“…And even now you are not ready, for you are still of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?” (1 Corinthians 3:2,3)
So I’m back looking over that older devotional journal of mine. And I’ve read my meditations. But now I want to reread Your Word again that I read that day. And I want to meditate on it more. It’s so pertinent. It’s so absolutely necessary to not only understand it, but to live it. It’s not enough to know doctrine. It must become who I am. It must become my life. Why? Because Your Word is not a set of rules and regulations and precepts to only follow. These words You’ve given us are a part of You that You have given us. It’s what You look like. Your Word is alive because You are in it and it is of You and You are alive. So, how alive is Your Word in me? How alive are You in me?
That’s really the question that Paul is asking the Corinthians here. “How alive is Christ in You? How alive is God in You?” The problem is that these believers weren’t acting at all like believers. Anyone looking at them and their lives and their actions would have thought that they looked and acted just like the other “pagans.” And that’s the problem. Believers aren’t supposed to be the images of mere men, they are supposed to be the image of God.
If we go back to the beginning, in Genesis, we see that man and woman, anthropos, were created in the image of God. Therefore, it seems to me, that the purpose of any man and any woman is to bear that glorious image. But I think that this is more than a mirror image that is just supposed to reflect the looks of it’s host. “And God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness’…So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them…And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.” (Genesis 1:26,27, 31) See, we were created in the image and likeness of God. We were created to be His living models in the world, before all of creation, angelic, human, and animate and inanimate. This is Your purpose, God, for us.
But then the problem arises. We were created for this purpose, but we chose another. We were created to reflect the image of God in all of our being, but like Satan, we wanted our own image to have meaning and significance on it’s own. We wanted it our way, not Your way. Instead of glory in Your image, we chose a faulty image, a broken image, our own way, the way of the created instead of the Creator. We chose sin. We chose self. We chose a false idol. We chose lust. We chose to turn away from Glory and to turn to ourselves. We chose wrong. Oh, so wrong.
This is sin. But notice what sin really is, it’s denying who I was created to be. It’s denying the glory of God in my life. It’s turning away from glory. It’s choosing to turn away. It’s choosing to deny the truth. The truth is that humans were created in the image of God, to be true reflections of God in this world. Humanity, therefore, isn’t being fleshly. True humanity is being Godly, resembling His image.
Paul is calling the Corinthians and us to repentance, to return to God. See, repentance isn’t about our humiliation. On the contrary, it’s about being reaffirmed in the image of our Creator. Repentance is about returning and realizing who we were in the first place. It’s all about coming back to You, God, and accepting and reclaiming our image in You. It’s about realizing who I’m really like. Sin put a crack in that image, a really giant crack. When people see us through sin, they no longer see a glorious God. They no longer see humanity as God designed it. So, I suppose “sin makes us less than human.” Scripture tells us that all homosapiens have sinned. That makes every one of us “less-than-human,” well, except for Christ. Skip Moen continues, ” Doing what I want instead of doing what God wants reduces the image of God in me, and consequently, reduces my humanity. Of course, the world doesn’t present being human in this way. The world suggests that being human is an ontological fact of my existence. I am human because I am homo sapien. But the Bible has a different point of view. Man was formed human because Man was invited to participate in the divine image – an image that is the dynamic interplay of actions that reflect God. Sin does not reflect God. It reflects rebellion against God. Therefore, sin is the antithesis of being human. To repent, to return to the image of God, is to recapture my own humanity because unless I have an open, cooperative, obedient relationship with Him, I do not share His image.”
Now let’s go back to what Paul is saying, because he could be saying this to us. This is my paraphrase. “Hey, I couldn’t talk to you like you understood the spiritual, supernatural things of God. I had to talk to you like all you understand was fleshly stuff, stuff that mere men think about and understand. You should have understood the things of God, but you were immature and simple minded. But that’s not what you should have been. I’ve been feeding you like babies and even now you have no idea how to handle real food. I suppose it’s not just that you don’t know how to eat and chew real food. It’s that your digestive system doesn’t even have the power to do it. But why not? You’re old enough to digest real food? What’s keeping you from maturing?”
What keeps us from maturing? What keeps us from our true and full identity in You, Lord? Sarkikos. I just want what I want. It’s all about me. It’s not about You, it’s not about Your image, I’ve made it all about me. I envy, I strive, I argue, because I want it my way. I choose to live like a mere man instead of like You. I choose to follow mere men instead of You. I choose to acknowledge mere men instead of You. I look for satisfaction in mere man and not in You. I look for love in mere man and not in You. I look for acceptance in mere man and not in You. I look for approval in mere man and not in You.
But the truth of the matter is that every human was designed and endowed to be a colabourer in You and with each other. We were created in Your image to build Your kingdom, not our own. Each of us is Your handiwork. Each of us is God’s building. No single brick makes a house. And when bricks and stone are made by hand, which is what You are doing, Lord, then they need to be cut and chizzled and ground to fit perfectly in the right place. It’s the grace of God that called Paul as a wise masterbuilder in charge under Him to help us understand how God was fitting us together. But even that is initiated from the grace of God, given to each us, the grace of the wise Master Masterbuilder, who knows how each of us fits. And only You know, Lord.
Now here’s the caution. Am I taking heed to the building process? Am I letting the right One form me? Am I yielding to a foreign builder? Am I taking over the building process myself? Who is really building my house? Do I think about that moment by moment each day? When I am faced with decisions, when my heart cries one thing and my spirit another, am I thinking about who my Builder is? Am I yielding to my fleshly desires and allowing something to be added to my life that makes me an unfit stone? Or am I surrendering to the Master’s chisel and allowing Him to remove that which would keep me from a perfect fit in the body of Christ?
Maybe my work isn’t about what I do. Maybe this work, this labour is about how I yield and how I allow You to form Your image in me. I can add more of You to it or I can add more of me to it. Because I don’t think You are the One laying a foundation of hay or stubble to be burned in the fire so nothing is left of it. But I might do something like that. And the truth is that You tell me that the truth of building will be made known, it will be manifest for all to see. There’s a day, and not necessarily the day I stand before You, but a day which could be today on this earth, where I’m going to be made manifest, where people will know what image I really take after. Am I ready for that day?
Am I ready for fire? Because, whatever it takes to make me fit is what You will do. And if You have to bring pain and suffering to burn away the chaff, to chizel the malformed pieces of stone that are me, You will do that. What is my work? What is my labour? What if it is to live life in Your image, every moment of every day? What if that is what really counts? What if whether I wake or sleep, that is my purpose? Do I have anything in my life that is contrary to that purpose? Is my flesh controlling me in any area or are You in every area? Am I the human I was created to be, fully reflecting and exhibiting You and Your power in my life? Or am I less than human?
Am I ready? Am I living in Your purpose for me? Am I living out the image of God? Or, am I about to be exposed? Maybe now is the time to examine every area of my life that is setting forth a false image. I want to fulfill my purpose. I want to live in the image of my Maker. And I don’t want to tarnish my Maker’s image because I know how much He loves me and how much He has done for me and I deserve none of it. Lord, by Your power, make me ready. I want to live in Your image, wholly, not partly, because there’s no such thing as a partial image of God. In Isaiah 30:15 You said, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” But Isaiah said that Israel was “unwilling.” I don’t want to be like that. I don’t want my own way, and even when I do, I really want Your way. I want to be one who returns and rests in You, who returns and rests in who You created me to be. And Lord, if I’m not as ready as I think I am, then make me ready. I mean if You can help a father’s unbelief, You can certainly help me be ready to receive and ready to live to Your glory and in Your image.